9 June 2017

Liberia: Civil Society Groups Dialogue On Referendum Bill

Five Civil Society Organizations or CSOs including NAYMOTE, PMU, LDMI, IREDD and SAIL have concluded a one - day multi-stakeholders dialogue aimed at bringing relevant stakeholders together to brainstorm on the quick passage of the Referendum Bill that is before the National Legislature.

In a statement issued here on Thursday 8 June, the stakeholder's dialogue which took place in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County brought together 15 Senators, two Supreme Court Justices including Cllr. Philip A.Z. Banks and Cllr. Kabineh M. Ja'neh and the leadership of the Law Reform Commission.

The Grand Bassa County Superintendent, and the Leadership of Civil Society Organizations on the Constitutional Reform, and local authorities of Grand Bassa County were also in attendance.

The Civil Society Coalition says their intent is working to promote nationwide consultations on the constitutional review process with the in an effort to encourage an accelerated action on a joint resolution leading to a referendum bill by the National Legislature,

According to the release, the multi-stakeholders dialogue was climaxed by critical review and procedural discussions on the propositions pending before the Senate and propounding possible steps for a constitutional referendum bill within 2017 by the National Legislature.

It says during the dialogue, Justice Philip A. Z. Banks made great presentation on the topic: "Towards a Constitutional Amendment", in which he inspired and motivated the Senators who promised to take timely action toward reviewing, discussing and working to get a Referendum Bill considering that they have better clarity to work toward amending the Liberian Constitution.

For his part, Cllr. Boakai N. Kanneh, Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, presented on the Proposals for Amendment, during which he laid out the entire 24 recommendations from the Constitution Review Committee's report with statistics on what were voted for against during the national conference.

It was aimed at helping the Senators deepen their understanding of what were the issues discussed around the country. Some Senators who gave reasons for the delay in discussing the constitutional propositions, indicated that the delays were due to procedural error earlier observed from the Executive Branch.

They however assured that based on the precision from the presentations made by constitutional lawyers including Justice Banks and Cllr. Kanneh, they were provided the technical basis to now proceed on discussions to amend the Liberian Constitution.

In furtherance of the above observation, the CSOs suggested that the Law Reform Commission timely expedite to give all legal support to the Senate and the necessary documentation that will assist in reviewing, discussing and making decision for a National Referendum Bill leading to referendum.

They also suggested that the Committee on Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Reconciliation as well as the Committee on Judiciary at the Liberian Senate, take leadership actions in reviewing, discussing, reporting to the plenary for onward introduction on the floor for deliberations based on the presentations and lesson learnt from constitutional lawyers.

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